Stoneham is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, nine miles north of downtown Boston. Its population was 21,437 at the 2010 census, and its proximity to major highways and public transportation offer convenient access to Boston and the North Shore coastal region and beaches of Massachusetts. The town is the birthplace of Olympic figure skating medalist Nancy Kerrigan and is the home of the Stone Zoo.
The earliest documented mention of the territory now called Stoneham dates to the year 1632, when on February 7 Governor Winthrop and his party came upon this area. They found Spot Pond and ate their lunch on a place they called Cheese Rock, now known as Bear Hill.
Stoneham was first settled in 1634 and was originally a part of Charlestown. The original settlers of the area were Whigs. In 1678, there were six settlers with their families, all in the northeast part of the town, probably because of its proximity to the settlement in Reading (now Wakefield).
By 1725, the population of the area, called "Charlestown End", had increased until there were sixty-five male inhabitants paying taxes; however, they were miles away from the settlement in Charlestown and could not conveniently reach its church or school. For this reason, Captain Benjamin Geary and fifty-three other residents of the area petitioned Charlestown to allow them to be separated. The town refused their petition at first, but on December 17, 1725, the General Court passed an act to establish the new township of Stoneham, separating it from Charlestown, and releasing its residents from the obligation to pay taxes to Charlestown, provided that within two years they would erect a suitable church and hire a minister and a schoolmaster.
The town's first meeting-house was erected in 1726, and the first church was organized in 1729, with members being released from the congregations in Reading and Melrose to form it. In that same year, the town voted to raise ₤9 for the building of a school, and chose a committee to hire a schoolmaster. Stoneham remained a small town during the colonial era; traces of its colonial history are still to be seen in the Spot Pond Archeological District of the Middlesex Fells Reservation. During the Industrial Revolution, Stoneham prospered as a major shoe-manufacturing center.